We took some side trips from Dublin - one to Cork/Blarney castle/Midleton, and one to the Cliffs of Moher with a few extra stops in there…
It’s easy to take the train from Dublin to Cork, be and from there you take the Cork bus to Blarney castle and Midleton (Jameson’s major distillery). The train leaves from Dublin Heuston station (pronounced like the Houston in Texas), and takes a couple hours. Buy tickets online, print them on the machine at the station, and hop on! Electric outlets and wifi are provided.
It’s a short walk from the train station to the main bus station, in Cork, and the Cork buses take Leap card!
Blarney castle is beautiful. We sat next to some nice Swiss folks, and toured most of the castle and grounds with them. There are some beautiful gardens you can walk around in for quite a while, and of course the castle.
Kiss the Blarney Stone. Just do it. It’s fine. It’s at the top of the castle on the outer wall hanging about 150 feet in the air. They carefully lay you down and help you out to kiss it. Nobody is peeing on it in the middle of the night. Get your mates to take a picture of you.
There is poor footing all the way to the top, so be careful. You climb up the castle staircases to get to the Blarney Stone. Stop in all the rooms and crevasses you can, you’re in a castle! How cool is that! There are several unmarked rooms, but if they’re not blocked off go ahead and check them out. Again, be careful with your footing.
The bus only comes out to Blarney a couple times an hour. While you’re waiting for the bus back, maybe stop by the pub there. The food and drink are great. It’s a great little pub.
We changed busses in Blarney and went out to Midleton, getting off right next to Jameson. Unfortunately, the busses took a long time - longer than expected, and our return train was at 720. Based on the bus return trip, we did not have time for a tour. We got to Jameson at 4 pm. If you want to cram all this stuff into your Cork visit, plan for a later train ride or leave Blarney early enough. Watch out for the Midleton-Cork return bus times - they don’t do as often as you might hope and that might put you at risk of missing your bus.
Anyway, we had a drink at Jamie’s, took some photos, then looked around at all the awesome shops in Midleton while waiting for the right return bus. This gave us about 1 hour out there.
Because we didn’t plan enough time, we wished we’d skipped Midleton and hung out at the Blarney gardens longer. However, if we had made the Jamie tour we would have preferred the tour.
Anyway, we made it back to Cork on time, and had enough time to stop and grab some dinner. There isn’t much right next to the train station, but there’s a nice wine and food place right up the hill (check Google). I had a fish pie, and was surprised that it was good. I learned something that day ☺️ We got back to Dublin around 1030.
The Cliffs of Moher is another all day trip… We used Paddywagon tours - their rep is a little sketch, but we found it to be excellent. Other than the boarding setup, that was unorganized. Still, we got moving with no trouble.
The tour guide was excellent. He had all this info about the history of everything we were traveling through. He had color commentary too. Great old dude.
The bus made a few stops - a couple at service stations which were nice and let us refuel and de-fuel. You know what I mean. A couple stops at historical points. One was this little town called Galway. Famous for it’s hookers. Ask your guide. But, they also have toilets and a take-away Irish coffee place. So, they’re awesome.
Another stop was at an awesome rock outcropping area. We walked out along this awesome flat plane in an area called the Barrens. Our guide explained the history of the area both geologically and socially. Excellent guide.
Take some photos stretch your legs get back on the bus!
Next stop, lunch. Paddywagon and a couple other companies stop in this town that send to have grown up and built restaurants to handle all the tourists passing through. A couple restaurants are recommended by the driver, but there are a couple others in walking distance. We had the fish and chips place - which was fine. By fine, I mean disappointing given the overall quality of the dish within these countries. I recommend some other place.
Cliffs of Moher! This is a crazy set of cliffs. There’s a short walk to a tower where you can get amazing views. There are dangerous paths you can walk on, but you can also just stick to the asphalt and there’s no danger.
I don’t think I can do the Cliffs justice here. These things are beautiful, and worth the trip, no doubt. The only question you need to ask yourself is: will the weather permit us to see the cliffs, and if not, will we be disappointed pissy bad tourists with hurt feelings. If the weather is definitely going to be foggy, skip this trip. If there’s a chance - I estimated a 50/50 chance of good-enough weather during our visit - then decide if you’ll risk it. We risked it, and were greatly rewarded. The weather report changed throughout the day, getting nicer and nicer outside. By the time we finished at the cliffs, the sun was shining and the clouds parting. We had mostly unobstructed views.
On the trip back we stopped briefly at a castle. No time to see it, but there was ice cream and a place to charge phones to use the WiFi on the bus. We took some photos of the castle, ate ice cream, and took the bus back to Dublin.